High school Agriculture and Natural Resources Instructor, Dan Kvalheim, recently received a $1,000 grant award from Whitetails Unlimited to purchase tools for maintaining the school district’s Big Hill Environmental Learning Center. The funds were matched with another $1,000 from the FFA’s Land Lab proceeds. In addition, two businesses, Johnsons Sales and Stihl, provided a discount on the purchase of the tools.
Kvalheim wrote the grant application on behalf of the Big Hill Committee and DeForest FFA. According to Kvalheim, the funds will be used to purchase tools for use in removing invasive plants, shrubs, and trees at the learning center, with the ultimate goal of improving the health of the forest and improving wildlife habitat. Students in the high school Conservation class, along with volunteers, maintain the Big Hill. In the past they relied on volunteers bringing their own tools and supplies.
Big Hill Environmental Learning Center is a school forest located on 60 acres near Hwy. 19 that is jointly owned by the DeForest Area School District and the Town of Windsor. “The prairie covers roughly ten acres of reclaimed gravel pit, with the remainder being mixed hardwood woodland, two ponds, and small oak savannah, and unimproved brush,” said Kvalheim.